Director Blog Series: Camp PALS New Jersey



Happy March!!

We wanted to take a moment to tell you all a little bit about ourselves through each other’s eyes, sooo without further ado… It is my pleasure to introduce to you our fabulous Director Team for Camp PALS New Jersey 2017!!

Jake Introducing Nathan

Born in the small town of Frankfort, Illinois, Nathan Bartholomew Drewes was always destined for success. Excited about the prospect of establishing his own identity in this world, Drewes enjoyed the life of an only child for approximately 3 minutes. After what can only be described as an eventful day for the family, Nick and Shannon came sprawling into his life. 

Drewes found himself climbing the corporate ranks of public education, and soon began surveying his next steps in the outside world. Attending University of Alabama, Nathan showed off his proficiencies for incredibly difficult Chemistry classes as well as the assembly of deliciously decadent cold cut combos. Even so, Drewes felt a yearning for something more, and upon hearing about PALS, proceeded to give it “the ol’ college try.”

Nathan has been involved in PALS for 4 years. Not only does he portray his passion for the organization through the time, effort, and love he shows, but also demonstrates an audacity that is unmatched. Unafraid to push the envelope of what is possible or “accepted,” Nate has exposed to the community the value of standing up for what you believe in. I have had the pleasure of directing with Nathan for two years, and have learned something new from him every time we have a conversation. PALS is lucky as an organization that he made those first steps four years ago…


Nathan introducing Samantha

I am pleased to introduce Samantha Conigliaro!

New to the Jersey scene this year, Sam has merged wonderfully into the role of Camper Logistics Director for the summer of 2017. Her love for PALS and our program is apparent as she is the embodiment of our values. From Medical Volunteer to Adventure Leader to a first year director, you could say that Sam is a jack of all trades. After attending Deep Run High School Sam graduated from James Madison University. She now resides in Richmond, Virginia and is getting ready to pursue a career in the medical field.

They say that good things come in threes, and Sam’s case is no different as she shares a birthday with her 2 brothers (what are the odds of that??). In her free time Sam enjoys recording covers of ‘90s pop songs using nothing but her nose flute and counting blades of grass. Sam has always been considered the life of the party, as long as that party ends before 8:30 and allows her to bring her world famous snickerdoodle cookies with. Sam has also been skydiving (with wonderful pictures to prove it). Working with Sam so far has been nothing short of a blessing and I cannot wait to see our week of Camp unfold!


Samantha introducing Jake

Jake is a funny, selfless, motivational leader who is no stranger to the PALS community. As a member of the beautiful PALS family since 2013, Jake is a perfect symbol of what it’s like to be welcoming, genuine, passionate, supportive and fun. Jake began his camp life at Philly for three years then Chicago for one and is now going to be a second-year, all star New Jersey director! Originally from Philadelphia, Jake graduated from Christopher Newport University in 2013 and now resides in Norfolk, VA where he teaches high school biology and anatomy while motivating and empowering the future of America. You can catch Jake in the area going on long runs, playing lacrosse and soccer, or roaming around with his doggy best friend, Cleveland.

In his free time, Jake enjoys freestyle rapping, making puns, whipping his hair back and forth, and shaking his groove thang! Jake also loves talking about any movie with Zac Efron, especially the High School Musicals of which he can repeat verbatim but his favorite movie of all time is Napoleon Dynamite. Be sure to ask Jake about his tube sock collection – his favorite pair form a mermaid tail when you put your feet together! Of all of these cool little facts about Jake though, the most interesting thing about him is how he is able to hold his breath underwater for 59 seconds – WOW, that’s almost a full minute! As you can see, Jake is one heck of a guy to know, and we are blessed to have him as our Volunteer Logistics Director.


Most importantly, Camp PALS New Jersey would be nothing without our wonderful Campers, and we are all so excited to meet you this summer during our favorite week of the year! We just hope you’re as excited as we are! Take a look at this video to get ready for a day in New Jersey.

As you can see, we like to have fun with every moment, and we strive to bring this great energy to Camp this summer!  


Director Series: Camp PALS New Jersey


Jake introducing Amanda

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the incredible Amanda Sayer!

A PALS MVP since 2013, Amanda has been an inspirational leader at Philadelphia and Georgetown over the past three years. She has an incredible ability to see through a person’s outer shell and connect with who they really are, and lives in a way that exhibits the fundamentals of Camp PALS as an organization. Speaking of organization, Amanda continues to demonstrate her affluence for scheduling, ensuring no other leaders in charge of on-campus curriculum (who shall remain nameless) fall behind. Her love for PALS stems from personal relationships with family and friends with Down syndrome, and the organization has benefitted from her being both an active leader as well as a role model for all involved. Amanda is a molder of young minds who brought her talents from Pennsylvania to the great state of Virginia to train the future of America.

In her free time, Amanda enjoys reading the thesaurus. She is a lifelong rock collector, and hopes to someday discover a new composite. Her food preferences include M&M’s, but only the blue ones, and she prefers a week of school to a week of snow days. If you see her, ask her to tell one of her classic knock-knock jokes, as she knows over 200 of them (disclaimer: some or all of the above information may be fictional).


Amanda introducing Nathan

PALS Family, I present Nathan Drewes!

he’s cool

Just playin’! Nathan is an outgoing, generous, confident leader who has embodied the PALS vision over his past three summers. Though he hails from outside of Chicago, IL and attends college in Tuscaloosa, AL, Nathan has made his way around PALS camps and adventures, making new friends everywhere he goes! This year he is lending his talents to Camp PALS New Jersey, where his diligence and compassion have so far made him an incredible Camper Liaison. Nathan’s experiences with the Down syndrome community have made him an imperative part of the Camp PALS formula of creating and executing quality camps. We are lucky to have him!

When Nathan is not working hard at the University of Alabama or enjoying time with his PALS family, he likely enjoys trading places with his triplets (although one is a female) and instructing the elderly in Zumba lessons. He also probably likes Hot Dog Eating Contests and singing in the shower. Be sure to check out his Blue Steel. Some, or all, of the information presented in this paragraph is Amanda’s attempt at humor. But if you run into Nathan at Camp PALS this summer, you will be sure to smile and laugh, and that’s no joke!


Nathan introducing Jake

Introducing the one, the only, Jake Myers!

Despite his home base being Philly and his dog’s name being Cleveland, Jake has opted to take his many talents to Camp PALS New Jersey for the 2016 summer. Known as Mr. Myers to his students, Jake spends his days molding the minds of the today’s youth. Jake joined PALS in 2013, branching out from 3 years of Philly to attend Camp PALS Chicago (with yours truly) last summer as well. From counselor to head counselor and now director, Jake is the perfect example of someone who embodies all of PALS’ values- Passionate, Welcoming, Supportive, and Fun!

In his free time, Jake enjoys long runs in the woods and drinking milk directly from the carton. He also LOVES talking about his headband collection. If you’re ever hanging out with Jake, drop a beat and ask him to freestyle - his mix tape’s coming soon!